Pittsburgh Pirates

A funny thing happened on the way to another losing season…

Hold on, let me check my watch. And by watch I mean the home screen on my phone because who wears a watch anymore?

As of 10:43 PM ET on July 15, Year of Our Lord or Roberto Clemente 2011, the Pittsburgh Pirates are sitting alone in first place. Wait, let me put that on its own line:

The Pittsburgh Pirates are sitting alone in first place

And another one that is equally important to me:

Baseball sure is fun again in Pittsburgh!

It’s not that I’m intentionally striking while the iron is hot, hoping to catch a fleeting moment. I’m not in a hurry to get this down on paper because I feel this isn’t going to last very long. I’m sure every columnist in Pittsburgh and every Pirates blogger who knows way more about this team and baseball has already wrote that single, emphatic line above to lead their own story.

General Sports

Ask RJ: Inaugural December Edition

Checking my Sportscolumn article archives, I noticed that it’s been 30 MONTHS since I’ve had an article published. Was it laziness or some subconscious protest to not write something until Michael Vick has received the justice he deserves and rightfully resumes his NFL career with the Oakland Raiders. Since it was just reported today that Vick will only be released into a halfway house in January, I’ve decided to say screw it and make my comeback. Al Davis will be around soon enough to offer another horrible person a shot at redemption. In the meanwhile, I hope to get my shot right here, right now by trying my hand at a regular, Q and A style format that won’t let me focus on a single subject, thereby not giving me a headache. It’s win-win, believe me.


Have a Neat Summer!

Remember your high school yearbook? Me neither, but I do remember signing them for friends (stay cool, dude!), non-friends (trying to cleverly mix the word “fart” in there somewhere) and wish-they-were-girlfriends (my phone number) like I was some sought-after athlete whose scrawl would be cherished for generations, if not days. Mine of course, would get the standard: Have a Neat Summer! (or was that Kevin Arnold?)

So, living in this fantasy land I call life (or maybe it’s the other way around), I got to dreaming what it would be like if today’s greatest athletes stopped me in some heaven-like high school hallway and asked me to sign their yearbook/media guide.

Here’s what I think I might write:


The clueless soccer fan’s guide to watching the World Cup

Remember comedian Jay Mohr’s talk show on ESPN back in 2002? Of course you don’t. It lasted only 16 seconds, but that was long enough for him to get in the one line that pretty much captured how the good ol’ U.S of A. has felt about the rest of the world’s favorite quadrennial sporting event:

“So, I hear the World Cup started this week. In a related story, my stones itch.”

It’s not enough that we simply ignore the beautiful game, we go out of our way to abhor it, to knock it, to dis it every chance we get. Not only do we dislike the sport, but we’re pretty damn proud of it.

Atlanta Braves

Confessions of an Atlanta Braves hater

Who’s sick of the Atlanta Braves? If I asked ten people, I bet nine would raise their hands. I was always sick of them. More than any Mets fan, Phillies fan or any NL East wanna be du-jour. They have been clogging up baseball’s postseason since 1991, with only one championship to show for, in the post-strike 1995 season, when about three people cared outside of Cleveland and Atlanta.

I hated them. More than any professional franchise in sports. More than the Yankees, the Cleveland Browns or Philadelphia Flyers.

MLB General

Another great afternoon

Welcome to Opening Day. I know the White Sox and Indians played on Sunday night, but to me that’s the equivalent of the play-in game. Today’s when baseball really starts. The season only gets officially underway when the President throws out the first pitch. It’s not quite that first Thursday-Friday of the NCAA tournament, but it’s up there.


Madcap mascots make our games merry

They’re fun. They’re cute. They’re Criminals (Yuma HS, AZ)! Ah, the life of the sports mascot. Be it high school, college, or the pros, the game just can’t go on without an eight foot tall, oversized, stuffed Banana Slug (UC-Santa Cruz).

I want to be a part of the fun, so I’m going to apply at some of our fine institutions of learning for their coveted mascot positions. I hope they overlook the fact that I, like, don’t actually attend their school.

College Basketball

Wanna Win Your Bracket? Try a Whole "LOTA" Love

(Deep breath, wiping sweat from forehead, big smile) IT’S HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE!!!  (More giddy laughing, thinking about dancing, thinking twice). It’s that week, boys, girls and shareholders. The week we’ve all been waiting for, the only marketing slogan we’ve collectively as a nation completely caved into: MARCH MADNESS!  I have a friend from Turkey who didn’t even know it was an actual tournament. She just kept repeating: “I can’t wait for March Madness,”  as if CBS paid for her rights, too. If I had a few of those millions, I’d hire Michael Buffer to pick it up from here (deciding to hell with it and dancing anyway). We finally got here; Olympics, the ridiculous posturing of NFL lawyer-types and Dick Button be damned! Barry Bonds could shoot up with Pedro Gomez on American Idol and hoops fans wouldn’t give a flying cow hormone for the next 20 or so days. I apologize for the childlike excitement and pure jargon of the opening (Dick Button?), but this time of year just does something to me, as it does to seemingly every man, woman and employee across the land.

Everything  normal about us goes out the window this half of the month. Work ethic? Ha! We’re as productive as an army of one-armed Mario Mendozas when it comes to work. Morals? Puh-leeze. When it comes to gambling, we`re a weird cross-pollination of Janet Gretzky and Pete Rose.  We drop more dimes than Henry Hill on these games with our point spreads, polls and parlays. Common sense and intelligence? Depends on the outcome of Iona-LSU.

Random Thoughts

RJ’s Junk Drawer

Thank God it’s Monday, huh? Another week has passed in this never-ending sports merry-go-round. Who wants to get off now? Maybe Gene Upshaw. Not me, though. Not with all the fun stuff coming up. Baseball is about to dive head first into real international competition on this side of the globe after dipping it’s toe in the Far East. Hockey and pro basketball are still a few months away from a meaningful game, but hey, at least they’re not showing Hawks highlights (Chicago or Atlanta) on Sportscenter anymore.

Oh, and there’s that tournament that those college kids are going to play next week. Get your vacation days approved, yet?

So to celebrate, here’s another fresh batch of sports nuggets for your reading pleasure. Inside, you’ll read the dirtiest thing ever written on Sportscolumn (you should’ve already read one), but that won’t keep the cheerleader with the broken neck from Southern Illinois from reading them. And of course, I will honor the two “Major League” quote limit for the year.

Random Thoughts

RJ’s Junk Drawer

With the sporting world in a virtual holding pattern over the next few weeks while we wait for March Madness and the baseball season (i dunno – April Ardor?) to give us some real sports stuff to talk about (what’s this O-limp-ix thing they’ve been yapping about these past two weeks anyway?) here’s a fresh list of sports notes to whet your appetite until the real fun begins – bashing Alex Rodriguez. Oh, wait, they started that already.

Oh well, here goes. Have fun and don’t read it all at once, thus frying your brain and losing points on the Wonderlic test.